March 25 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Joshua Berlinger, Adam Renton, Ivana Kottasová and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 9:34 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020
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3:56 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

A famous New York City hotel is providing free rooms for medical workers

From CNN's Kate Trafecante and Sonia Moghe

The famous Four Seasons hotel says it will offer housing to medical staff "free of charge" as they help respond to the coronavirus pandemic in New York City.

“Our health care workers are working tirelessly on the front lines of this crisis,” said founder and chairman Ty Warner in a statement.  “Many of those working in New York City have to travel long distances to and from their homes after putting in 18-hour days. They need a place close to work where they can rest and regenerate."

New York City agencies including the Office of Emergency Management and the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene are also helping health care workers and recently discharged Covid-19 patients get hotel rooms, so they don’t have to go home and potentially expose their families to the highly contagious virus.

OEM spokesperson Omar Bourne said that both individual hotels and hotel associations have given “a tremendous outpouring of support and offers to help.”

CNN has asked the agencies if the individuals are expected to pay for the rooms or if they are covered with public funding.

4:24 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

Minnesota governor orders residents to shelter in place

From CNN's Melissa Alonso 

Mike Stevenson flips his barber shop sign to closed in Columbia Heights, Minnesota, on Wednesday, March 18.
Mike Stevenson flips his barber shop sign to closed in Columbia Heights, Minnesota, on Wednesday, March 18. Anthony Souffle/Star Tribune/AP

Minnesota's 5.6 million residents will shelter in place starting at midnight on Saturday, Gov. Tim Walz said at a news conference today. 

He asked residents to stay at home for two weeks and limit their movement outside to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Residents can still leave their homes for groceries and exercise, Walz said. 

The order lasts until April 10. 

During that period, the state plans to convert stadiums and arenas into hospitals, and stock up on supplies, the governor said. State officials also hope to alleviate capacity on its intensive care unit.

Walz said he hopes to "strike a proper balance" and make sure "our economy can function" while protecting the most vulnerable and slowing the rate of infection. 

"We can get ahead of it," Walz said.

3:54 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

The first homeless New Yorker has died from coronavirus

From CNN's Anna Sturla

The first homeless New Yorker has died because of Covid-19, Isaac McGinn, spokesman for NYC’s Department of Social Services, tells CNN

"Our hearts go out to the individual’s friends and family," McGinn said.

Here's the full statement:

"What we’re seeing continues to track the trends across our city, state, and country – with more testing taking place, we’re effectively identifying more positives, which gives us the ability to immediately connect each individual to the care they need, whether in hospital or in isolation. Tragically, one New Yorker experiencing homelessness succumbed to this virus after several days in the hospital – our hearts go out to this individual’s friends and family. Another individual completed their isolation and got back on their feet healthy. We remain focused on coordinating with Agency partners, health experts, and providers to keep our clients informed and prepared as we respond together to these realities.”
4:01 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

Stimulus bill includes additional funding for judicial branch

From CNN's Michael Warren

Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post/Getty Images
Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post/Getty Images

The judicial branch would receive some additional funding in the economic stimulus bill. 

The Supreme Court of the United States, for example, is provided an additional $500,000 for salaries and expenses "to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, domestically or internationally."

There is also a similar provision, of $6 million, for salaries and expenses to be used by federal courts of appeals, district courts and other judicial services. 

The bill also provides that emergency conditions apply to allow for the use of videoconferencing and telephone conferencing for certain federal criminal proceedings, including felony pleas and sentencing.

There is discretion left to the chief judge or other senior judges about whether to use such remote conferencing "cannot be conducted in person without seriously jeopardizing public health and safety."

3:49 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

Department of Veterans Affairs reports significant jump in positive cases for second day in a row

From CNN's Zack Cohen

The Department of Veterans Affairs reported another significant jump in positive cases for the second day in a row Wednesday. The VA is now tracking 365 positive cases nationwide, up from 294 on Tuesday, marking one of the largest 24-hour increases in veteran cases to date. 

The VA facility in New Orleans maintains the largest number of positive cases by far, reporting more than 100 as of Wednesday. No other VA facility is tracking more than 20 cases.

VA officials in Louisiana told CNN they still do not know why the New Orleans facility is seeing so many more positive cases than any other medical center in the country but noted that the trend aligns with what has been observed at hospitals statewide.  

"At the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System, we have seen a higher number of positive cases than other VA facilities, just as Louisiana has a higher per capita rate of diagnosed cases than most other states. We cannot speculate as to why at this point," spokesperson Phillip Walls told CNN when asked about the disparity.

VA says it has administered more than 3,378 Covid-19 tests nationwide.

4:03 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

UK medical official says general public testing is not imminent

From CNN’s Mick Krever

PA/AP
PA/AP

England’s chief medical officer said a generally available Covid-19 test is not imminent.

"I do not think, and I want to be clear, that this something you will suddenly be ordering on the internet next week," Chris Whitty said at a Downing Street press conference, standing alongside Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

This contradicts testimony from another British official earlier today. The director of the National Infection Service for Public Health England told parliament that she "absolutely" believes that a test would be available to order on Amazon in a matter of days.

"We need to go through the evaluation, then the first critical uses, and then spread it out from that point of view," she said.

4:06 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

WHO officials warn the world is facing a "significant shortage" of medical supplies

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

Health workers handle a coronavirus test kit at a drive-through testing station in Stamford, Connecticut, on March 23.
Health workers handle a coronavirus test kit at a drive-through testing station in Stamford, Connecticut, on March 23. John Moore/Getty Images

World Health Organization officials warned during a news briefing in Geneva on Wednesday that globally there is a "significant shortage" of medical supplies, including personal protective gear or PPE.

This issue is something that officials said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus will be bringing up at the G20 summit on Thursday.

"We need to be clear: The world is facing a significant shortage of PPE for our frontline workers — including masks and gloves and gowns and face shields — and protecting our health care workers must be the top priority for use of this PPE," Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO infectious disease epidemiologist, said during Wednesday's briefing.

All elements of the supply chain appear to be under "extreme strain," Dr. Mike Ryan, WHO executive director of the health emergencies program, said during the briefing. 

"There are problems in the supply chain all along that chain. The simple issue is demand," Ryan said. "There are shortages of PPE, shortages of ventilators and other products for the medical response to Covid. We also have to avoid shortages in other medical supplies, as supply chains come under strain."

3:42 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

Senate stimulus bill includes video conferencing for some court proceedings

From CNN's David Shortell

A draft spending bill obtained by CNN provides for federal judges to enable video conferencing in place of physical courtroom hearings in a number of cases, allowing for a scaling down of in-person interactions at certain stages of a trial.

The legislation also pours money into federal law enforcement agencies that are continuing their missions despite the growing pandemic. It would provide $55 million to the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, US Marshals Service, and federal prosecutors across the country. This is in part to provide IT and security updates needed for teleworking, according to a summary of the bill.

The federal Bureau of Prisons, which is responsible for more than 175,000 inmates across the country, will get $100 million. That will go toward the purchase of personal protective equipment and other medical equipment, overtime and cleaning, according to the summary.

Also, $850 million will go toward a signature DOJ grant that funnels money to state and local law enforcement agencies.

What the bill doesn't address: There isn't anything about a series of controversial proposals floated by the Justice Department last week that would further coordinate how federal judges are able to slow down the timelines that criminal cases proceed on – proposals that had rankled civil liberties advocates when they became public.

3:40 p.m. ET, March 25, 2020

Top health official says France will see "many bereaved families" as coronavirus death toll climbs 

From Ya Chun Wang and Benjamin Berteau in Paris

France's Director General of Health, Jérôme Salomon, has warned that France will see "many bereaved families" as the country continues to grapple with a climbing coronavirus death toll

At least 1,331 people have died so far.

"We will see many tragedies, many bereaved families. Doctors are admirable, they deserve all our admiration and our daily congratulations," Salomon said Wednesday.

"We are facing an unprecedented, severe and rapidly spreading epidemic...the wave of serious cases is already here," he added.

During his news briefing, Salomon confirmed that at least 25,233 people have so far tested positive for the virus — 2,933 more than Tuesday's total number of cases.